If the birds and animals at the Delhi zoo could celebrate, Thursday’s news would have brought in loud cheers. The 10% cut in the non-plan budget, which affected among other expenses the food bill for zoo inhabitants, has been restored.
The Delhi zoo, formally called the National Zoological Park, is the only one directly under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It registers an average daily footfall of about 5,000 visitors, going up to 10,000-12,000 on Sundays and public holidays.
In January, the ministry had slashed roughly 10 % budget - of the Rs. 10 crore under the non-plan head - from the Rs. 11 crore of the zoo’s annual allocation. The zoo administration on Thursday got a letter from the ministry conveying the decision that the budget cut has been restored.
“It was a decision applicable across all departments/agencies under the Ministry. But possibly the Ministry has realised the importance and restored the zoo’s cut considering the animal feed would be severely affected,” said a source. Apart from the animal feed, funds under non-plan are spent also on sanitation, electric and water bills and daily wage payments. From January first week, the administration had spent some anxious moments putting the cut into effect, as it is in winters that the feed goes up substantially for several species to enable them to cope with the harsh winter.
“However, the restoration is applicable for the budget till March. For the next fiscal, we are to plan anew,” said Amitabh Agnihotri, zoo’s director.